Oakland Secondary Dwelling Units

This is the term that Oakland uses to refer to ADUs.  The City has prepared a Handout to explain the zoning regulations.


  • Design Review Exemption, to be processed within 120 days of application receipt. The application will be considered ministerially, without discretionary review or a hearing. No public notice is required, and public input cannot be considered per State law.
  • Secondary Units are allowed only on lots with an existing One-Family Dwelling Facility (the Primary Dwelling Unit). A total of one Primary Dwelling Unit and one Secondary Dwelling Unit are allowed.
  • No minimum lot size, so long as the property is a legal lot of record.
  • The property owner is not required to live in either the Primary or Secondary Unit. The Secondary Unit may only be occupied on a 30-day or longer basis.
  • The Secondary Unit may be rented, but may not be sold separately from the primary dwelling. The Secondary Unit may only be utilized forPermanent Residential Activities
  • If a covered parking structure is demolished to construct a Secondary Unit, the replacement parking may be located in any configuration (including covered, uncovered, tandem or mechanical lift).
  • Must be clearly subordinate to Primary Dwelling in size and location; exterior materials must match or be visually compatible.
  • For attached or detached Secondary Units outside required setbacks, height limits are consistent with standards for that zone.
  • For detached Secondary Units within a required side or rear yard, maximum wall height is 10 feet and roof height is 14 feet.
  • May not exceed 800 square feet or 75% of the floor area of the existing One-Family Dwelling, whichever is less
  • No additional parking required for Secondary Units located
    • Within 1⁄2 mile of a bus stop, train station or, if appropriate, paratransit stop
    • In a historic district
    • Within one block of a fixed car-share pick-up/drop-off spot.
    • Where on-street parking permits are required but not offered to the Secondary Unit occupant
  • For all other Category Two Secondary Units:
    • One parking space per unit required in zones other than S-11 and S-12.
    • In S-11, one space per bedroom, up to maximum of 2 per unit.
    • In S-12, one space per bedroom.
  • A detached Secondary Unit may extend into a required side and rear setback up to 4 feet from the lot line. No more than 50% of the horizontal area of the required rear yard may be covered by facilities over 6 feet high.
  • A Secondary Unit located above a garage and conforming to maximum height and other applicable regulations is not required to have a side or rear setback of more than 5 feet.
  • All other Secondary Units must meet the setbacks adopted for that zone
  • A new or separate utility connection may be required, but the connection fee or capacity charge shall be proportionate to the burden of Secondary Unit on the water or sewer system.  more………….

City of Oakland

Planning Division